On Saturday night, Scott Laughton played his fifth game against the Florida Panthers. For him and the Philadelphia Flyers organization, the debate as to whether or not the Flyers should keep Laughton could no longer be put off.
The 18 year old was Philadelphia’s first round pick this year, and signed a 3 year entry-level contract with the team. After Danny Briere sustained a wrist injury that would require him to miss the start of the season, the Flyers invited Laughton to their shortened training camp to give him a closer look.
And they certainly liked what they saw.
Head coach Peter Laviolette played him for the first five games, and the move seemed to pay off. Laughton was a spark plug in Philadelphia’s offense, and despite not registering any points, he made certain he had a strong impact on the ice. In a shortened season, there was no doubt Philadelphia would love to have kept a young and energetic player like Laughton.
But there was one problem: According to NHL rules, a year of a player’s entry-level deal will be used if he is to play at least six games. Sunday’s contest versus the Tampa Bay Lightning would have officially jumpstarted Laughton’s deal. With the emergence of Briere back into the Flyers lineup, GM Paul Holmgren made the tough decision to send Laughton back to the Oshawa Generals, his OHL team for the past three seasons. Despite Oshawa having just 19 games left in their regular season, fans won’t be seeing any of Laughton until opening night 2014.
Paul Holmgren had this to say about the situation:
He needs to play and needs to play in all situations. The little bit of time he had here was good for him and good for us.
From a financial standpoint, the move of Laughton gives the Flyers a little breathing room. The team is down to 49 contracts, giving them the ability to add a player if need be. When Laughton was on the roster, Philadelphia was at a maximum of 50 contracts. Also, his demotion gives the organization a little bit of cap space to work with. With his base salary at $1,137,500, Philadelphia now has $1.59 million in space to work with. If the team decided to place defensemen Chris Pronger and Matt Walker on the LTIR, they would have more than $7.7 million in cap space. For a team lacking defensive depth that now has the ability to add an extra contract, the Flyers could certainly take advantage of that .
Jake Pavorsky is a contributor for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JakePavorsky.